Venezuela’s autocratic president Hugo Chávez (pictured, right) died on March 5, 2013. It is interesting that Joseph ‘Uncle Joe’ Stalin died on the same day in 1953.
That day, I listened to the news programmes on RTL. Two of the journalists interviewed — one in a morning segment and the other in the afternoon — offered a few interesting insights which I’d not heard elsewhere.
First, Chávez’s relationship with the Castros was not nearly as harmonious as the media present it. Second, poverty in Venezuela actually increased under Chávez’s regime. Third, Chávez often rambled at length about nothing at all during his weekly addresses to the nation.
Finally — and this is the kicker — the journalist said that Chávez presented himself as a national saviour. By shrewdly manipulating Bible verses he was able to persuade a large percentage of the Venezuelan population that he was their Christ.
They are not alone. A number of media outlets and politicians from other countries agree. They are not all leftists, either. On the day of Chávez’s death, Le Monde published the French political reaction. The self-described Gaullist — Nicholas Dupont-Aignan — who ran unsuccessfully for President in last year’s French general election, issued his statement of sympathy (emphases mine):
Tonight, a heavy silence stretches forth from the heart of Venezuela. One of the great voices of the free world is no more. Every living legend has his faults but [even so] he animates a people proud to be free.
Hmm. I used to like Dupont-Aignan. Now I’m beginning to see how he got less than 2% of the vote.
Meanwhile, the radical Front de Gauche leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon spoke for many when he tweeted this hommage to the late Venezuelan president:
He who will never die.
This prompted Le Monde reader Pierre-Marie Muraz to quip:
The little Soviet Jesus is dead!!!
Meanwhile, The Telegraph reported that:
Another leader to receive Chavez’s vociferous backing was President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. On Wednesday, Mr Ahmadinejad returned the favour by predicting that Chavez would rise from the dead.
This “brave, strong” and “revolutionary” leader would, he said, return to life at the same time as the 12th Imam, also known as the “perfect human”. Shia Muslim tradition holds that the Imam will appear with Jesus Christ to rule the Earth in justice and peace.
“I have no doubt that he [Chavez] will return, along with the righteous Jesus and the perfect human,” said Mr Ahmadinejad.
As the French are fond of saying: hallucinant!
The Left is becoming increasingly bold in their exaggerated imagery with regard to their leaders, past and present, as well as appropriating conservative ones for their own purposes. Think about the way Obama invokes Lincoln — a Republican, by the way. American Communists also did this with Lincoln in the 1930s, as Bella Dodd details in her book School of Darkness (see my Marxism / Communism page for excerpts).
Stalin’s anniversary also brought out startling comments from leftist Britons (read here, here and here). Some said that the UK needs a Stalin to bring it into the 21st century. Others said that without Stalin, the British would be speaking German. Also common was the sentiment that Stalin was greater than Winston Churchill. As to mass deaths in the gulag, some lefties were unfamiliar with these. One invoked the omelette metaphor, claiming that bringing a nation ‘together’ involved ‘breaking a few eggs’.
That said, it’s important for us to take such comments in without being taken in by them. However, those readers with children might wish to ask them what has been said in the classroom about Chávez and Stalin.
Regardless of who actually said it, this quote still holds true, particularly in our ‘rational’ age:
When a Man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything.
UPDATE: Venezuelan vice-president Nicolas Maduro — now interim president until the upcoming elections in 30 days’ time — said that Chávez will be ‘embalmed for eternity’. He who will never die! Note that other dictators so ‘honoured’ include Vladimir Lenin, Ho Chi Minh and Mao Tse Tung. As one of Le Monde‘s readers drily observed, ‘Watch for pilgrimages to Caracas becoming the next big thing’.
AND: Sean Penn lost a friend on March 5, 2013. No prizes for guessing who that was.